NEW YORK (MainStreet) The Tumblr site Your Balls Are Not That Big (subtitled "A rage blog about dudes on New York City subways") is an abject one-liner: men splay their legs in the interests of comfort any chance they get. They are space invaders who create a vast swath of dead air from knee to knee, often torturing their seat companions or their next available strangerlegs akimbo in a state of self-entitlement.
I suspect you know on a cellular level how useless most blogs arejust another yawp in the night, along the digital frontier, and another minute lost to blithe curiosity. Your Balls Are Not That Big is such a blog. But, it highlights the economy of space that we all participate in, consciously and unconsciously.
There's the gender argument throughout. Women, on one hand, pursue an economy of means, sitting in a compact, frugal, and considerate manner.
Men, obviously (as the blog's title recommends) could use some pointed advice on their exaggerated assertions of manhood, which has created an overheated economy of space.
Elsewhere on Tumblr, #donttouchmyhair is a popular tag that's a little more prescriptive than the passive-aggressive balls screed, but it gets to the same point: in this country, at least, keep your hands (and your legs) to yourself.
Always late to the party (but, usually thoughtful), NPR broadcast a piece in May about how personal space plays out across different cultures. The story used #donttouchmyhair as a foil for the main argument: personal space is a relative concept. At least in Cairo and Sao Paulothe story's counter-points to less touchy-feely cities in the United Statesthere are no guarantees for your corporeal bubble.
To talk about an economy of space, then, is not seeing the full picture. It's not a macro economy; it's a series of micro-economiesand the bow-legged men performing a sedentary Russian squat dance on the 4/5 train seat nearest you needn't fret over a Tumblr site. In other parts of the world they can, culturally, make as much room for themselves as they want on the street or aboard a street car.
But, if you have been victimized by an errant knee lately, you may see a great deal of wisdom in documenting man-habits on the subway. If only there could be photographic evidence of the awful perfumes men--and women--endure on the same subway cars.
--Written by William Richards for MainStreet